March 8, 2021 By Allie Griffin
New York City high schoolers will be welcomed back to the classroom at the city’s public schools later this month, Mayor Bill de Blasio announced today.
Roughly 55,000 high school students who signed up for in-person learning in the fall will return to school buildings, starting on March 22 after about four months of fully remote learning. The school buildings have been closed since November when COVID-19 cases spiked.
“We are ready to go,” de Blasio said during a press briefing Monday. “We have all the pieces we need to bring high school back and bring it back strong and of course to bring it back safely.”
Public high schools are the last to reopen for in-person classes. Middle schools reopened in-person instruction last month and elementary schools reopened in December.
Students, educators and school staff will be subject to random COVID-19 testing weekly as part of the city’s reopening plan.
The reopening of high schools is one of the first major responsibilities for the new Schools Chancellor Meisha Ross Porter as head of the Department of Education. She will take over as Schools Chancellor from Richard Carranza on March 15.
“My priority as chancellor is to open, open, open,” Porter said during the briefing. “I am thrilled that we are making good on that with today’s announcement.”
“As the parent of a tenth grader, I can tell you firsthand how exciting it is that we are reopening high schools on March 22,” she said.
Less than 20 percent of all public school high schoolers — 55,000 out of 282,000 students — have signed up for in-person instruction.
De Blasio also announced that all school sports will resume in mid-April — with an extended season through August to make up for lost time. Both students who opted for full remote learning and those who opted for in-person will be allowed to participate.
The mayor said there will be strict protocols, like mask requirements, weekly COVID-19 testing and a “heavy emphasis on moving sports outdoors.”
De Blasio said he hopes to reopen schools fully in September.
“There is nothing more essential to our recovery than bringing back our public schools,” de Blasio said. “Families depend on them; everything revolves around our public schools.”